One of my most memorable classes in college was an Intro to Photography course that launched me into the big world of photography. Not only did it open my eyes to techniques and new skills, it also introduced me to some of history’s most brilliant photographers. Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, Mario Testino. These are just a handful of photography’s legends.
You see their work everyday, in magazine ads or in framed pieces of art. But, instead of focusing solely on their work, let’s dig deeper and learn more about their thought process, their creativity, their skills. These photographers can offer so much inspiration to us bloggers who are attempting to master photography. Their quotes and thoughts all resonate with us today.
What can you learn from 15 of the most famous photographers? They share their very own insight:
Ansel Adams, landscape photographer:
Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you, and trust to your own reactions and convictions. Ask yourself: ‘Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream? Can I visualize a print – my own personal statement of what I feel and want to convey – from the subject before me?
Annie Leibovitz, one of fashion’s most respected portrait photographers:
A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.
Henri-Cartier Bresson, well-respected pioneer of photography:
The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.
Martin Parr, British documentary photographer:
The easy bit is picking up a camera and pointing and shooting. But then you have to decide what it is you’re trying to say and express.
Richard Avedon, world-renown photographer:
I always prefer to work in the studio. It isolates people from their environment. They become in a sense . . . symbolic of themselves. I often feel that people come to me to be photographed as they would go to a doctor or a fortune teller – to find out how they are
Mario Testino, fashion photographer:
I like getting my ideas from the things of now. I am very conscious of the moment, of images that belong to this moment instead of another period. Fashion is really a reflection of our lives. You see women today and they don’t do their hair up; they all wear their hair undone. So you have to reflect that in your photography .
Robert Doisneau, French photojournalist:
The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.
Peter Lindbergh, fashion photographer:
Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
Cindy Sherman, portrait photographer:
We’re all products of what we want to project to the world. Even people who don’t spend any time, or think they don’t, on preparing themselves for the world out there – I think that ultimately they have for their whole lives groomed themselves to be a certain way, to present a face to the world.
The first 10 000 shots are the worst.
One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.
I think a lot of the time these days people are so concerned about having the right camera and the right film and the right lenses and all the special effects that go along with it, even the computer, that they’re missing the key element.
It’s much harder to work for yourself, by yourself, than to create work for a gallery, because there are no limits and you can do anything you want. It’s always easier when you have a parameter, when you have a limit. You can work within the limit and push it and walk the line, but when you’re given absolutely no limits, it’s harder. You must really think. It’s more challenging.
It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.
You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.